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Call for inquiry into homelessness welcome

Homeless organisations welcome call for inquiry into homelessness

Media Release
Tuesday 24th November
LIFEWISE and Auckland City Mission

Yesterday Moana Mackey (Labour Party spokesperson on housing) asked the Parliamentary social services select committee to hold an inquiry into the issue of homelessness in New Zealand.

LIFEWISE and Auckland City Mission – two Auckland agencies working with homeless people every day - welcome this move and ask the select committee to adopt a bi-partisan approach to this issue.

In calling for this we note that:

o Homelessness is a significant issue in New Zealand and one that is growing. It goes far beyond rough sleepers to include individuals and families living in hostels, garages, sleeping in cars, and sharing over crowded accommodation. This is the hidden side of homelessness.

o For some time now the sector has been highlighting that it costs more to maintain people in homelessness – in terms of emergency health care, police and court time etc – than to support people out of homelessness.

o Our agencies have worked together to prepare a strategic plan to end homelessness. This process has involved all the main government agencies in Auckland as well as the Auckland City Council.

o Successful approaches to addressing homelessness exist in New Zealand and overseas. Successful solutions include a coordinated approach to:

o Preventing homelessness by better managing transition from mental health care, prison, foster-care etc.
o Building more social housing utilising public, private and community resources.
o Tenancy sustainment, supporting people to retain their housing.

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We congratulate Hon Phil Heatley, Minister of Housing, for the interest he has shown in homelessness so far and anticipate his support for an inquiry.

Those working in the front line of homelessness look forward to working with the Minister to develop a strategy to solve this issue with its consequent social and economic costs.

Quote from John McCarthy, General Manager LIFEWISE
“Currently there is no lead government agency responsible for homelessness, no policy, no strategy and no funding for solutions to homelessness. This needs to change if we are to end homelessness in New Zealand. A Select Committee Inquiry would provide the Minister with an opportunity to take leadership on this significant social issue.”

Quote from Diane Robertson, CEO Auckland City Mission
The Homeless action plan that has been adopted by the Auckland City Council, ADHB, Housing NZ, the Ministry of Social Development, Te Puni Kokiri and not for profit agencies provides a framework for working on homeless issues. The strategic plan could well be the model for a national strategy around the issues of homelessness.

ENDS

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